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Designing Virtual Worlds Paperback – Jul 15 2003

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (July 15 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131018167
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131018167
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 4.1 x 22.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #230,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Designing Virtual Worldsis the most comprehensive treatment of virtual world design to-date from one of the true pioneers and most sought-after design consultants. It's a tour de force of VW design, stunning in intellectual scope, spanning the literary, economic, sociological, psychological, physical, technological, and ethical underpinnings of design, while providing the reader with a deep, well-grounded understanding of VW design principles. It covers everything from MUDs to MOOs to MMORPGs, from text-based to graphical VWs.

Designing Virtual Worldsbrings a rich, well-developed approach to the design concepts behind virtual worlds. It is grounded in the earliest approaches to such designs, but the examples discussed in the book run the gamut from the earliest MUDs to the present-day MMORPG games mentioned above. It teaches the reader the actual, underlying design principles that many designers do not understand when they borrow or build from previous games. There is no other design book on the market in the area of online games and virtual worlds that provides the rich detail, historical context, and conceptual depth of Designing Virtual Worlds.

About the Author

Richard Allan Bartle, Ph.D., co-wrote the first virtual world, MUD ("Multi-User Dungeon"), in 1978, thus being at the forefront of the online gaming industry from its very inception. A former university lecturer in Artificial Intelligence, he is an influential writer on all aspects of virtual world design and development. As an independent consultant, he has worked with almost every major online gaming company in the U.K. and the U.S. over the past 20 years. Richard lives with his wife, Gail, and their two children, Jennifer and Madeleine, in a village just outside Colchester, England. He works in virtual worlds.

These reviewers contributed their considerable hands-on expertise to the development process for Designing Virtual Worlds. As the book was being written, these dedicated professionals reviewed all the material for technical content, organization, and flow. Their feedback was critical to ensuring that Designing Virtual Worlds fits our readers' need for the highest-quality technical information.

Matt Mihaly is the founding partner, lead designer, and CEO of Achaea LLC. Founded in 1996 in San Francisco, Achaea designs and produces some of the world's most popular and successful commercial text MUDs, including Achaea, Dreams of Divine Lands (http://www.achaea.com), Aetolia, the Midnight Age (http://www.aetolia.com), and Imperian (http://www.imperian.com)—all of which run on Achaea's proprietary network engine, Rapture. Matt graduated from Cornell University in 1994 with a degree in Political Science and is a licensed stockbroker. These experiences have informed his game design tendencies and he is an expert on business models, political systems, and community dynamics in virtual worlds. Along with the inevitable interest in games, he spends his free time pursuing Brazilian jujitsu and kickboxing, cooking, travelling, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and scuba diving.

Damion Schubert has been working in online world design professionally for over seven years. He was originally the lead designer of Meridian 59 (and several expansions), as well as the lead designer for the defunct Ultima Online 2. He has also served as a contractor for such projects as The Sims Online and Kalisto's Highlander Online. Currently Damion is serving as a senior designer at Wolfpack, which shipped Shadowbane in March 2003.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Richard Bartle has an amazing amount of experience in designing and building virtual worlds. This book is a MUST READ for anyone designing a multiplayer on-line game or environment-- everyone from small community MUDs to huge massively-multiplayer systems. I would even suggest it for people writing more traditional multiplayer LAN games.
This is NOT a programming book. You will find very very little information on how to program or develop a world system or the back-end infrastructure. What you will find is page after page of design experince on topics such as virtual world "laws", economies, chracter relations, and player communities. Basically all the stuff after "our world is going to be a fantasy world with humans and elfs and monsters." Most of the information he offers can only come from trial and error-- often very costly trial and error. As he points out, you can patch most code, but you can't patch an economy or a character design flaw.
The book is written in a very relaxed style. It is not an guide on how to build the perfect world. There no perfect answers to most of these problems-- and besides, virtual worlds are SUPPOSED to be different. Rather, the general theme of the book is that if you are going to make decisions, THINK and make INFORMED decisions. This is done through many many discussions, e.g. "If you put this feature into your world, it will likely cause these side effects (bet you didn't think of that!), which have caused these problems for past designers." Reading this book is like sitting down with a bunch of other smart designers and asking "What if we do this?" "What if we try that?" only he has a general idea of most of the answers.
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Format: Paperback
This looks like the definitive book on designing virtual worlds, and is likely to stay so for many years. It clearly shows that the author had 25 years of experience--not just as a designer of such worlds, but also as a user--to draw on, while at the same time being sufficiently detached from the industry to be able to offer candid opinions on any subject.
It's hard to think of anything on the subject that Bartle does not at least touch on (providing extensive, scholarly quality references to a wealth of further on- and offline materials), from the deepest metaphysical philosophy to the daily squabbles between users and administrators on virtual worlds large and small. Bartle does not in general provide cut-and-dried solutions to the world design issues, but he gives an extensive discussion of approaches attempted and how they succeeded and failed.
My only reservation with this otherwise excellent book was that I found some of the discussion a bit overly extensive. I would have preferred a book maybe 200 pages shorter, especially towards the final chapters of the book.
If you're planning on designing a virtual world, buying this book is more than just a good idea: Failing to do so would border on criminal negligence.
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Format: Paperback
Over the years, I haven't always fully agreed with Richard Bartle's opinions, but he truly does *THINK* about the issues of world design, and he writes exceptionally well. In this book, he gives an extremely thorough, clear, well-reasoned, entertaining, and succinct analysis of the issues involved, the classes of solutions available for the problems those issues present, and the effects those solutions might have on the resolution of other issues. And he keeps his own ego out of the way: Yes, he tells us what he did, and why, but there's no hint that his way is the only way, or the best way, or the moral way - it's just the way he did it for the reasons he gives, and here are the other possibilities. And it applies as well to a 50-player LPMud or MUSH as it does to a 50,000-player MMORPG - and perhaps more so, since the LP and MUSH players are going to (and should) have higher expectations for their world.
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